“Skin Deep,” while a very good film, would have been even better if the crux of the plot didn’t revolve around smart people doing a very dumb thing. In this case, 911 isn’t called immediately after Sarah (A.J. Johnson) is found dead at the bottom of a hot tub. Sarah’s husband, Michael (Steve White) does his best to keep the other characters from calling the police because he believes that as a black man, he’s going to go down for murder … and he may be right.
There is far more to this story than a dead body or three. There is
Anthony (Mailon Rivera), a black man married to a disinterested white woman named Victoria (Kristen Shaw), who was originally sent to call for the ambulance after the body was found, but was so in shock (or so it seems) that she just didn’t do it. Then there’s Alex (Debra Wilson), a woman who makes Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction” look like the epitome of sanity. Anthony is having an affair with her, though he broke it off just hours before Sarah’s demise.
Who killed Sarah and why is just part of the drama, though, and before the day is over lives will be ruined (some beyond repair) and revenge will be taken.
As mentioned earlier, this would have been an excellent movie if the characters didn’t act so stupidly right from the beginning. They needed to, though, in order to bring the plot along, and that doesn’t work in this case. These are smart, but flawed people. They aren’t idiot criminals, and nor are they scared teenagers. Acting that way ruins what could have been a very suspenseful story. That said, it is still well worth watching for some excellent performances from all the actors involved (try saying that about any other movie) and engaging dialogue on race relations. As a thriller, it stumbles, but as a study of race and inner-conflict, it is far better than a lot of films out there.